Deliberate Dysfunction? KPFA’s Decade of Financial Mismanagement

The Pacifica Radio Network nearly went into bankruptcy this month.  The immediate cause was a court order to pay the Empire State Building $1,800,000, more cash than Pacifica had.  As bad as that may be, it’s really a symptom of deeper problems in the network.  It goes back a long way.

I attended a KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) meeting in 2005 when Max Blanchet (MBA in Finance from UC Berkeley) presented a minority report, warning that KPFA was hiring too many paid staff  The station was living beyond its means, and this couldn’t last.  Max’s report and repeated warnings were ignored by the station’s power clique, who were represented on the board by a slate which later stole the name “Save KPFA,” the SK.

Actually, that was not something new even then; it was the path Pacifica had been on since the 1990s, under the Hijacker Regime.  Events of 1999 did bring about important changes in governance, but the existing power clique remained in place, and they worked to continue KPFA’s extravagant lifestyle.  Not only that, they allied with a New York faction, the JUC (Justice & Unity), whose poor management and equally poor programming were depleting WBAI’s finances and causing a drain on Pacifica. In that unholy alliance, the SK functioned as JUC’s enablers and in turn received support on the Pacifica National Board (PNB) for their own dubious practices. Eventually, when crisis hit and Pacifica could no longer afford the waste, the SK loudly…

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